1150 years of Russian statehood marked in Novgorod

As Russia celebrates its 1150th anniversary of statehood, the key ceremonies are being held in Veliky Novgorod this weekend.

The Statehood Day was celebrated for the first time 150 years ago. The climax of the jubilee was the unveiling of the Millennium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod. The competition for the best project was announced in 1859. In all, 52 works were presented. A 23-year-old graduate from the Academy of Arts Mikhail Mikeshin won the competition. Work on the monument seriously changed his life, says Russian historian and author of the “Monument to the Russian State” book Victor Smirnov.

“Mikhail was a graduate of the Academy of Arts. The competition was announced in the year when he graduated with a gold medal. He was supposed to leave for Italy for a six-year-training course paid by the government. He accidentally came to know about the competition. In fact, he was not very serious in developing the project. A student of the Academy Ivan Schroeder helped him to do the project,” Victor Smirnov said.

The Millennium of Russia monument consists of three tiers. The uppermost tier shows an angel and young woman in national costume. This symbolizes Russia, while the second tier shows six various eras of the Russian state. A high relief with figures of 109 eminent figures of the country is on the third tier. Originally this was not included in the project says Victor Smirnov.

Source: Alexander Ganjushin, Ricardo Marquina

“The idea of high relief was thought of by Mikeshin. Originally there was no frieze. Sculptor Baron Klodt planned to make several medallions of relief figures. But what Klodt did failed to satisfy Mikeshin and Emperor Alexander the Second. Suddenly, Mikeshin suggested the idea of round high relief frieze. He proposed to depict about one hundred prominent figures in the Russian history on it,” Victor Smirnov said.

During the Second World War, the Nazis dismantled the monument, and prepared it to be transported to Germany. However, the Red Army regained control of Novgorod and the monument was saved. The restoration of the monument was started without delay. The photos taken by Prince Vladimir Alexandrovich at the celebrations of the Millennium of Russia in 1862 helped constructors. The monument was unveiled on the 2nd of November 1944.

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